BeatMaker 3 is a deep and complete music production app. This guide covers its most basic concepts and workflows: make sure to refer to the User Manual, HOWTOs and tutorials for more detailed information.
In any case, it should be pretty easy to figure out how to produce music with BeatMaker as you go. And as you dig deeper, you might be surprised by all the interesting features it offers.
1. Main concepts
BeatMaker is divided into 4 main views:
- Performance: pad and keyboard interfaces for live playing and recording
- Editor: configuration of each instrument/pad
- Sequencer: song, scene and pattern editors
- Mixer: mixing console to adjust volumes and more
The Browser and File management panel is automatically opened when starting BeatMaker. You can close it by pressing the X icon at the top left corner of the app. To open it, tap the menu icon located at the same position:
To display the keyboard interface for the currently selected pad or instrument at any time, press the following icon from the left toolbar:
The text displayed above the icon indicates the currently selected Bank (A1 in this example), and the bottom text represents the current pad number.
The FX and Macro panels can be opened at anytime by pressing their corresponding icon:
1.2 Session, banks and patterns
When opening BeatMaker, you can either create a new session or load an existing one. A session represents a project or song: it contains everything such as song tempo, banks, patterns, sequences, effects, references to audio samples, etc.
A bank is a collection of pads (instruments) that are arranged together and controlled by a corresponding track. Up to 128 banks can be created. They are organized in 16 bank groups, each group containing up to 8 banks (i.e first group goes from bank A1 to H1, second group from A2 to H2, etc).
Although each bank can contain up to 128 instruments, you will usually use one bank to represent one instrument (for example Bank A1 is a drum machine, Bank B1 a bass synthesizer, Bank C1 a piano, etc…).
A pattern is a group of notes and automated parameters which you can easily arrange within a song. For example, a pattern can be a drum beat, a bass line, a set of chords, a melody…
To sum up, you first create an empty session which represent your song. This session contains banks, which in turn have patterns that can trigger their sounds.
1.3 Transport toolbar
The Transport is visible at the top of the application, when the Browser is closed:
It is used to control playback, recording and other global actions. Let’s take a quick look at its content, from left to right:
The Track Helper displays the state of the currently selected track: either playing the song or looping a single pattern. It also serves as a menu which provides functions for controlling the playback and editing patterns. For more information, please read Sequencer basics.
Displays the current playback position within the song, in BARS:BEATS format. Tap to change the display to time (MM:SS:MS) or SPMTE format.
Displays the current tempo (BPM) and time signature for the current session. Pressing it brings a menu where you can change the tempo manually or using a Tap Tempo button.
Enables or disables the metronome (click) during playback. Long-press to bring a menu to change the metronome volume, tuning and activation during recording.
Displays the automatic quantization used when recording patterns. By default, auto-quantize is ON and set to 1/16th of a bar. Tap to bring a menu where you can change the auto-quantize parameters and pre-roll duration.
Enables or disables automation recording.
These are the classic playback controls: stop, play, record, rewind, forward and loop mode.
You can at any time, and for any action, undo or redo it. If you make any unwanted change, remember these buttons are here to help you!
2. Making your first beat
2.1 Loading an instrument
BeatMaker comes preloaded with several instruments and kits. You can also import your own sounds as well as download new instruments directly from the app using the Sound Store.
To load an instrument:
- Open the Browser by tapping on the menu icon located at the top-left corner
- Tap on the “BANKS” button to show a list of all available instruments
- Choose an instrument from the list, and tap the “LOAD BANK” button located at the bottom of the Browser.
- The instrument is now loaded on the currently selected Pads bank, ready to be played
To load a sound (sample) onto a pad:
- Open the Browser by tapping on the menu icon located at the top-left corner
- Tap on the “SAMPLES” button to show a list of all available individual sounds
- Select a sample to automatically preview it
- Drag and drop the desired sample from the browser onto any pad from the Performance view
- Make sure to close the browser using the “X” icon at the top left corner to fully go back to the Performance view.
For a deeper understanding of the Browser, please read this article.
2.2 Playing with pads
Once you have an instrument or samples loaded onto a bank, you can play them live from the Performance view. Each pad is a full instrument: it can be a collection of samples and/or an external Audio Units plugin or application.
When hitting a pad, it also becomes selected (the currently selected pad). You can control the playback pitch of the selected pad by entering the KEYS mode (located on the right-side toolbar):
Within this mode, the pad interface changes to semi-tones: your sample is automatically pitched accordingly.
If you prefer a keyboard interface for controlling the pitch of the selected pad, press the keyboard icon from the bottom toolbar:
The Performance view contains many more interesting features: for more information please follow this article.
2.3 Recording a pattern
Now that you know how to use the performance view, let’s record a pattern:
- Make sure the tempo (BPM) of your project is of your liking, or change it using the Transport toolbar
- We enable Loop mode so that our pattern repeats over and over, by tapping the following icon from the Transport:
- By default the loop is set to one bar, so the pattern we’re about to record will have a duration of one bar. Changing the length of the loop is explained in the next section
- Press the record button from the Transport to start recording. The metronome is automatically enabled and a count-down (pre-roll) of one bar starts playing
- When the count-down is over, play the desired rhythm using the pads. The pattern loops automatically after one bar, so you can record in various takes (for example, play the kick drums first, then the snare drums and finally the hi-hats)
- When you are done, press the stop button from the Transport. You’ve now created your first pattern! You can listen to it by pressing the play button, or keep recording into it by pressing the record button again.
2.4 Basic sequencing and looping
The Song sequencer is where you can arrange your patterns into a song. To open it, press the following icon from the left toolbar:
Tracks are arranged vertically: there’s one track for each created bank, as well as two AUX and MAIN OUT tracks:
On the right side is the song timeline. You can see that your recorded pattern is set at bar 1 just below the loop position, on the Bank A1 track:
Let’s record a second pattern of a 2-bar duration next to our first pattern, so you can learn some features of the sequencer:
- First we will set the loop from bar 2 to bar 4. To do so, drag your finger over the song timeline header by starting at bar 2 and stopping at bar 4:
- Record a new pattern as explained before and press stop when you are done
Now, we’re going to further expand our song by placing more patterns over the timeline:
- Tap the Track helper button to display a list of the patterns available in the currently selected bank:
- We will use the pattern drag & drop feature to add more copies of our patterns to the song timeline: simply tap and hold a pattern from the list (such as “Pattern 1”) and drag it over the desired position onto the song timeline:
- Repeat this operation until you created a small pattern sequence. Now disable loop mode from the Transport, and press play to listen to your first song!
Some more basic operations:
- Moving a pattern: select the pattern you want to move by tapping it. Now drag and drop the pattern to the desired position
- Removing a pattern: select the pattern you want to remove, and press the “Remove” button located at bottom of the sequencer. This only removes the pattern from the song timeline, the pattern is still available from the Track helper
- Editing a pattern: double-tap on any pattern to open it in the Pattern Editor
For a more in-depth overview of the sequencer, please read this article.
2.5 Saving your work
Now that you have made your first beat, you need to save your session. To do so, open the browser, and tap the “SAVE” button located at the top-right corner of the app:
You will be asked to enter a name for your session. For more information about loading and saving sessions, please read the following article.